Frustration after Morrisons drops British-only lamb pledge

Farming organisations have expressed huge disappointment after Morrisons dropped its 2017 pledge to only source British lamb.

The retailer announced that New Zealand lamb will be sold in 39 of its stores as part of a trial.

Morrisons said its customers were seeking cheaper lamb and this could be sourced more easily from New Zealand.

See also: Morrisons launches ‘British’ section online after campaign

A spokesperson said: “The blunt commercial reality is that New Zealand lamb is cheaper to source, and therefore cheaper to sell, than British lamb.

“We will remain 100% British lamb on all our butchers’ counters, and the New Zealand lamb will of course be clearly labelled so customers in these trial stores will see the difference and can make a choice.

“We do not intend this to mean a reduction in the overall volumes of lamb that we buy directly from British farmers.”

Unions dismayed

The National Sheep Association (NSA), NFU and NFU Scotland expressed their shock and frustration following the announcement.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said he learned of the news while returning from the prime minister’s Farm to Fork Summit, held at 10 Downing St, where Morrisons itself had a presence promoting its commitment to British farmers.

“The timing of this announcement is really quite unbelievable,” said Mr Stocker.

“This is a very poor decision, and something NSA warned could happen during the negotiations around the new trade deals agreed with Australia and New Zealand last year.”

NFU Livestock Board chairman David Barton said: “Morrisons has built its reputation on British-only sourcing and supported British farmers through its fully integrated supply chain.

“This comes at a time when the livestock sector is already under pressure from the impacts of the unprecedented wet weather.”

NFU Scotland vice-president Andrew Connon, a beef and sheep farmer from Aberdeenshire, said Morrisons’ decision to turn to New Zealand lamb was a “slap in the face” for Scottish and British farmers.

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